| 17 Jun 2024
Radio City CEO and AROI president Apurva Purohit - Radio is one of the most interactive mediums right now

Be it regulatory, royalty or infrastructure related, the focus of the Association of Radio Operators of India (AROI) is avowedly on issues directly correlated to ensuring the success of the nascent radio industry. In a chat with Aparna Joshi, Radio City CEO Apurva Purohit, president of the AROI national governing board, shares her views on which way the industry is headed.


How have the last few years been for the radio sector?

The last two years have been really good. The radio industry was helped by the sheer fact that geographically, we could grow from 20 cities to 91 cities, and advertisers finally appreciated the fact that FM is a national and not just a metro specific phenomenon.

What kind of advertiser is FM attracting?

One type is the corporate advertiser who is looking at a pan India presence, and the local advertiser too, for whom it is still a local product. The industry has grown at 40 per cent and the year ahead looks even better. Our own estimates match Ficci's which say that radio will grow at 25 to 30 per cent in the next three years.
But even after that, it will have a six per cent share of the advertising pie, whereas internationally, it is eight to ten per cent.

What have been the learnings for the industry in these two years?

New players coming in, and expansion in terms of genres to whatever extent possible, have been good for the industry. Consider Bangalore which is a really evolved radio market, offering several different options in programming. The city already has the largest time spent on radio among the metros, and it could well have the highest reach of FM radio among all cities. That's a lesson for the industry - if you give multiple choices for the listeners, the market will respond accordingly.

Today, radio reach is 55 per cent, which is very good considering that it is the only medium that's growing, while television has plateaued. But the impetus given by government policies would have been far higher had the new players tried different content.

So, why is there reluctance to experiment among radio players?

I would not blame new players, because everyone is going for the lowest hanging fruit. This is why we are aggressively asking the government to allow multiple frequencies in a city and allow consolidation and tradability, so that existing players can start alternative genres on subsequent stations. The reach will go up. The same goes for the permission to air news and current affairs on FM. So, the faster policy makers open up, the better it will be for industry.

Has the AROI been able to achieve its targets?

The success of the AROI has been that it got the industry together and drafted the consultation paper in coordination with TRAI, which has been able to release the paper in a short span of one and half months. Our sub committees are handling each issue separately, particularly the music committee which has been working very aggressively to come up with an optimum solution on the music royalty issue which is one of the major concerns for us.

We strongly believe that it is because of radio that the music industry has been able to expand its reach, and radio has been music's biggest promotion mechanisms, since Bollywood uses radio to market itself.

Internationally, too it's been proven that there can be excellent synergies between radio and music companies. It's just a question of meeting on an equitable ground.

What about the problems faced by operators in places where shared infrastructure was delayed?

It's mostly done, with just 10 cities left. But the huge delay cost a lot of money for many players. India is the only country probably where radio is growing at a time when TV and print have already matured, and new media have come in. While radio is also perceived as a traditional medium, there are also new media users who are realising that with radio, there is a good 360 degree synergy. Research also shows that internet use and radio go well together, as well as ground events which can gel beautifully with use of the Net and radio to promote them. It is one of the most interactive mediums right now.

Will the mobile phone be one of the key drivers of FM listenership in the country?

It already is. We have data to show that people are willing to pay upto Rs 6500 extra to upgrade to a FM enabled phone. RAM figures also indicate that 60 to 70 per cent of the total listenership is happening on mobile phones.

How is RAM (TAM Media Research's Radio Audience Measurement) shaping up?

It's still early days, but it has given a certain science to the entire media planning process. It's a long term investment. It will definitely give more confidence to planners to invest more money, but now the challenge for RAM is to go into more cities. Even three cities are good to start off with, though.